So­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions to be­come in­de­pen­dent

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By HE DAN hedan@chi­

China’s trade and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions will be­come in­de­pen­dent from gov­ern­ment agen­cies by 2015, the head of the na­tion’s top au­thor­i­ties that over­see so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions an­nounced on Thurs­day.

The re­form, in­tended to boost the dy­nam­ics of so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, is ex­pected to start in about 100 na­tional trade and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions in Jan­uary, said Li Liguo, min­is­ter of civil af­fairs, at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing.

Li said his min­istry is con­duct­ing a re­form plan jointly with other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

Re­form on trade and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions was ar­tic­u­lated in March as a part of the State Coun­cil’s plan to trans­form gov­ern­ment func­tions to re­duce ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ter­ven­tion in the mar­ket and in so­cial is­sues.

Yang Tuan, an ex­pert with the So­cial Pol­icy Re­search Center at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said that giv­ing more au­ton­omy to so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions is vi­tal for the new lead­er­ship’s re­form agenda, which aims to give civil so­ci­eties a big­ger role in so­cial gov­er­nance.

There were more than 70,000 trade and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions and cham­bers of com­merce as of 2012, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry’s sta­tis­tics.

“Cur­rently, most trade and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions are ei­ther founded by gov­ern­ment, or their lead­er­ship po­si­tions are taken by gov­ern­men­tal of­fi­cials or re­tirees. So it’s hard for them to get rid of bu­reau­cracy,” Yang said.

“Some­times th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions are dubbed ‘a quasigov­ern­ment’,” she said, adding that the pub­lic of­ten crit­i­cized th­ese so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions for lack of in­de­pen­dence and qual­ity ser­vices for their mem­bers.

Shen Yan, the gen­eral man­ager of a wed­ding dress fac­tory in Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince, said he can­celed mem­ber­ship in a lo­cal cloth­ing trade as­so­ci­a­tion be­cause he found it “use­less”.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion just or­ga­nized one gath­er­ing in a year. It gave me no in­for­ma­tion on im­prov­ing the means of pur­chas­ing ma­te­ri­als or ex­pand­ing sales chan­nels,” he said.

How­ever, di­vorc­ing the gov­ern­ment is the first — but not the only — step to­ward pro­vid­ing qual­ity ser­vice for mem­bers, said Zhou Zaifeng, a pub­lic­ity and re­search of­fi­cial from the China Pa­per In­dus­try Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Zhou said his cham­ber is in­de­pen­dent and all its lead­ers are en­trepreneurs se­lected by its nearly 300 mem­bers.

But the or­ga­ni­za­tion still faces dif­fi­cul­ties de­liv­er­ing ser­vices to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of its mem­bers.

“Our or­ga­ni­za­tion tries to act as a bridge be­tween the gov­ern­ment and com­pa­nies by speak­ing out about the chal­lenges and pol­icy bar­ri­ers that im­pede com­pany de­vel­op­ment, but some­times, we lack the power to sway the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Civil Af­fairs Min­is­ter Li Liguo said the gov­ern­ment will also fur­ther boost the de­vel­op­ment of so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions by re­vis­ing the reg­is­tra­tion and man­age­ment reg­u­la­tions and sim­pli­fy­ing reg­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dures.

As men­tioned in the State Coun­cil’s re­con­struc­tion plan un­veiled in March, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions have been al­lowed to reg­is­ter di­rectly with civil af­fairs au­thor­i­ties.

This has elim­i­nated the re­quire­ment to be pre-ex­am­ined and ap­proved by other reg­u­la­tors if the or­ga­ni­za­tions fall into four cat­e­gories — in­dus­trial as­so­ci­a­tions, char­i­ties, com­mu­nity ser­vices or or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­mot­ing tech­nol­ogy.

As of Septem­ber, China was home to more than 511,000 so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, which boast fixed as­sets of 195 bil­lion yuan ($ 32 bil­lion) and pro­vided jobs for about 12.18 mil­lion peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

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